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Employment: Myths versus reality

Alex Atamanenko
By Alex Atamanenko
July 4th, 2012

When it comes to jobs and the economy we often get conflicting messages as to how many jobs were actually created.  I thought it would be interesting to share some figures that Statistics Canada released for the month of May.


The Canadian economy as a whole added just 7,700 jobs in May – a relatively weak showing.  In the same period, our labour force grew by more than 15,000, meaning we continue to fall behind as 8,000 more Canadians were unemployed.  The unemployment rate remained high at 7.3% – basically the same place it was one year ago.  1.4 million Canadians were still out of work.  Following two months of strong jobs reports, this past May’s report largely shows the continued slack labour market and is evidence of poor economic growth.  Overall, this is evidence that the Conservative austerity agenda is not appropriate for our stagnant economy.


The Canadian economy lost 15,600 jobs in paid employment and gained 23,300 jobs in self-employment (which together equals the overall change of 7,700).  In the overall change of 7,700, 6,300 of the new jobs were part-time.  These are further signs that Canadian employers are not hiring workers into good jobs, and more evidence of a slack labour market.


Notable employment gains were in Quebec (+15,000 jobs) and Alberta (+10,000 jobs).  Ontario, however, lost 19,000 jobs last month alone (down 31,000 full-time jobs and up 12,000 part-time jobs).  Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island continue to have double-digit unemployment rates.


36,000 jobs were created in Manufacturing, mostly in Ontario.  While 59,000 manufacturing jobs have been created over the past year, we still remain about 130,000 manufacturing jobs short of our pre-recession peak and 300,000 fewer manufacturing jobs than when the Conservatives took office.  In general, the goods-producing industries gained jobs while the services-sector lost jobs. 27,000 jobs were lost in construction, at a time in the year when many construction projects should be beginning.   27,000 jobs were also lost in information, culture and recreation, while 25,000 jobs were added in educational services.


The youth unemployment rate remained unacceptably high at 14.3% – still twice as high as the national rate.


The participation rate (the number of working age Canadians participating in the labour market) remained a full percentage point lower than before the recession at just 66.8%.  This means there are nearly 300,000 “hidden unemployed” in our labour market (the number of Canadians who would be working if our participation rate had not fallen so drastically).  This is the lowest participation rate in a decade and reflects Canadians’ negative views of the labour market.  With few employment prospects, many Canadians are dropping out of the labour market.


The Conservatives like to boast about their record on job creation, but the fact remains: they have simply not created enough jobs.

It is true that 750,000 jobs have been created since the low point of the recession.  Of course, that is after 430,000 jobs were lost during the recession.  This leaves us with about 320,000 actual “net new jobs” than we had before the recession.  However, our labour force has grown by nearly 600,000 over this period.  This is why our unemployment rate is still much higher than its pre-recession peak (currently at 7.3%).  We are simply not creating enough jobs to keep up with the growth in our labour force.  Recent Statscan numbers show that there are 6 unemployed workers for every job vacancy in Canada.  This is hardly something to be proud of, and Canadians deserve better.

Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.

This post was syndicated from

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